Commercial femtocell services could become available from Vodafone by the end of this year. The apparent drive behind this schedule is the potential CAPEX cost savings, which the company admits could be up to 20 percent of its 3G macro network deployments.
Vodafone, which last year finalized its RFP for femtocells, has been testing 3G home base stations from Alcatel-Lucent and Huawei in Spain for some months. However, the company's CTO, Steve Pusey, speaking at Vodafone's recent Technology Update, while highlighting the cost saving opportunity that femtocells present, also tempering the outlook for their commercial success.
"We're still studying it," said Pusey. "We've approached femtocells from a cost savings perspective. It gives us the potential to improve coverage and reduce backhaul costs. It may or may not have commercial opportunities beyond that."
Vodafone estimated that of its total network CAPEX spend for full-year 2007/2008, radio access will account for 48 percent, while backhaul will account for 32 percent.
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